I am not now and never will be a big fan of political correctness. I believe folks should be allowed the right to voice their true opinions with maybe just a select few restrictions.
Political correctness forces many people to censor their real feelings. In my opinion, this prevents us from learning about the true character of the individual speaking or writing.
In the short time I have been anxiously cruising the content of bleacherreport.com, I have noticed a phenomenon which I feel warrants some of our attention. What is up with all the stereo-typing of NASCAR fans on this site?
If you would take a minute out of your busy schedule to check out the NASCAR section of B/R, you would notice that a large part of that community is made up of women. Quite possibly half of it. This would be women of all ages, and many are very intelligent, passionate contributors.
I have encountered uninformed writers referring to NASCAR fans as everything from “good ol’ boys” to “beer-chuggin’, tank top wearin’ guys munching on turkey legs.” Did you all forget about the "dumb," "toothless," "racist," "wife-beating," and "red-neck" labels?
Granted, I’ll agree that this element is still a part of this culture, but it is hardly the majority. You would have to go back to the late 1960s, the '70s and quite possibly the early '80s for that to apply.
Again, it really doesn’t bother me. I was raised—in what was in my opinion in many aspects—a much better time. A very popular phrase from those days was “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.”
I truly believe this is so very true. Words can only hurt you if you let them. They can only be applied if they are true. I guess folks had thicker skin back then.
My First Encounter
My first experience attending a NASCAR event live was the 1987 Daytona 500. Seven of us and a small dog departed from Peabody, Mass. early the previous Thursday evening in a Ford Aerostar mini-van. We returned on Tuesday, making this one of the most memorable of weekend adventures of my entire life.
Prior to people losing control and setting fire to them, rental trucks were allowed in the infield at NASCAR races. A U-Haul box truck would be our accommodations in the infield on that trip. For obvious reasons, that would be the last of that.
We had encountered many different types of colorful characters who surely enhanced our experience. Down by the infield restroom located in turns one and two, there were some of these characters who were conducting their own female beauty contest.
They had a huge bed sheet draped over the side of a van, and tried to persuade each and every woman who ventured down to relieve themselves to sign their name on it. They held up rating cards from 1-10 and rated the beauty of each and every one.
My girlfriend at the time had no problem at all fulfilling their request. They had no difficulty whatsoever filling that sheet with ladies names. Everyone realized it was “all in fun.”
My girlfriend...well, let’s just say she was blessed with a rump roast which would have had very little trouble receiving stamped, grade-A USDA approval. On this particular day it was clad in silk hot-pink short-shorts. You know the type, with sexy slits on both thighs.
Well, while walking back to our spot in the infield, an over-zealous NASCAR fan crept up behind us, bent down, and snapped a picture six inches from her butt.
We both thought it was funny, and I’ve always taken things like that as a compliment. No big deal—no harm, no foul. Still haven’t seen that pic on a website—I think.
We Cannot Assume All Things Hold the Same Meaning to All People
Another group of folks we had encountered that weekend were a group of “good ol’ boys” from Georgia. Like us, a rental truck was their home for the trip. However, these guys had something we did not.
They brought along everything but the kitchen sink—literally. Spread out on their part of the infield were a couch, a recliner, a coffee table and, believe it or not, a full-sized billiards table. Did I mention that they also had a fully stocked bar? Very popular group.
They also had something else that defined them on display for all to see. It was a Confederate flag, which was wafting in the Florida breeze.
There was something else which, at the time, did not seem like a big deal. One of their group of friends was black. Of course, there wasn’t as nearly much ado about those flags then as there is today.
There are many traditions of diverse culture in this country I do not care for. We are supposed to be tolerant of others views and traditions. Obviously, these guys were friends with a black man and he was friends with them.
You cannot deny one group of people their own traditions. That is quite discriminatory. That flag is a part of our history and, no matter how hard people may try, nothing can ever change that.
People need to realize the simple fact that that flag does not stand for all things to all people. Southerners are entitled to traditions of their land just as anyone else in this free country is.
When Does Stereo-Typing Need Apply?
I am not a big basketball—and much less of a soccer—fan. In fact, if there was never a game played ever again in either of these sports it would have no affect on my life whatsoever. I'm sure there are many who feel the same way toward NASCAR.
That being said, I believe if I made stereo-typed, assumptive comments towards the players or fans of those sports in a public forum, I would be skewered like a stuffed pig at a Polynesian Luau.
There have been several classic examples of prominent members of the media who have suffered serious ramifications due to uttering stereo-typed comments toward certain groups of people.
For respect of those offended, I shall refrain from detailing all parties involved. Just be sure to be careful with this oh-so-delicate subject. Your very future in the industry might just depend on this.
It just seems to me that the practice of stereo-typing certain groups or individuals is only offensive depending on which groups or people are stereo-typed. I don’t let people's words affect me.
We are not sure to what extent, but my dad is of Blackfoot Indian descent. We are extremely proud of that.
Personally, when I see and Indian mascot being used, I feel it is a tribute and not an insult. People could have forgotten about the injustices Indians suffered in the past.
To me, that would be the biggest injustice of all.
Ken Knight is and aspiring writer and author of a book released in August, 2008 titled “New England Bandwagon Nation.” Ken is also a contributing writer on sportslore.com.